Back to normal after the pandemic.

For most Latin America and the Caribbean countries, the COVID-19 pandemic began with strict quarantines and routine changes in March 2020. Today, just over two years later, there is talk of “returning to normality” in a framework of mass vaccination processes, controlled infections, and after profound changes in lifestyles and human losses.
Although the region is going through this return at different levels, there are exchange opportunities to learn from countries in the other areas that are already moving towards a return to normality. This is the case of the virtual seminar “How to return to normality?” which was held at the end of March 2022 with the participation of Professor Jaehun Jung from Gachon University School of Medicine in Korea.
In 2021, the Korean government created the Return to Normal Support Committee in charge of matters related to returning to a similar routine before the arrival of COVID-19. This country is one of those that has adequately managed the pandemic and, although with ups and downs, has achieved a vaccination rate of around 70% of the population.

The return to normality in Latin America
As of March 1, 2022, 73% of people in Latin America already had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 63.5% were already fully vaccinated. Although there is the heterogeneity, and we must not neglect vaccination and reinforcement efforts, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) believes it is opportune to share experiences for all people working at the government level in a plan to return to normality. Below, you can read four points summarizing the questions asked of Professor Jaehun Jung during his presentation.
Number of vaccines, transparency of information, and use of masks
In Korea, they stopped the number of recommended vaccinations at three doses since the aim is to prevent severe patients and deaths. This does not mean that the decision cannot change later, especially in the winter season and in the most severe patients. Still, it is not believed necessary to apply the fourth dose to the general population for the time being.
Concerning the adverse reactions and effectiveness of the vaccines, it is essential to emphasize that, in reality, like all medications, the vaccines against COVID-19 are not 100% effective and safe for all people. That is why it is difficult to explain those with the total dose’s possible side effects and contagion.
Regarding the use of masks, it is a fact that Western countries and Eastern countries see the show differently. In Korea and other Asian countries, the act was already used before the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, there were no problems with the correct way of use and incorporation into the daily routine. Based on experience and empirical evidence, it is scientifically reasonable to establish that wearing masks in a crowded enclosed space is better.

2. Isolation measures and vaccination processes
Total quarantine has not been implemented in Korea. Instead, levels of social distancing have been in place, and most daily life has been maintained. For example, eating in restaurants and cafes has been limited to certain times. This has caused dissatisfaction, especially among small business owners, freelancers, and those who run restaurants, cafes, or other meeting facilities.
Regarding the start of vaccination, the initial dissatisfaction was because Korea started the vaccination process late than other developed countries. This dissatisfaction later had to do mainly with the safety of the vaccines.

3. Information and communication technologies (ICT) against CODIV-19
Information and communication technologies have indeed fulfilled the role of lightening the administrative burden that COVID-19 means for the daily work of the health workforce. However, it is still impossible to replace scientists in their work. Although Korea is an ICT powerhouse, most of the burden is still carried by researchers and epidemiologists in the case of the pandemic. It may increase the speed at which specific results and processes occur, but health must focus on the people who offer and receive the medical service.

4. Climate change and lessons for the next pandemic
There are two points of view about an epidemic in the future. One has to do with the next wave of mutations of the current COVID-19, and the other possibility is that a dominant variant of the virus causes the next pandemic. Beyond the cause, what should use the lessons learned since this is the first global pandemic that occurred in a context of advanced technology both for coordination and control at the community, national and national levels.
National and international. That said, developed countries have the technology mentioned what should share with developing countries for the global public benefit.
Another vital lesson is international coordination. For example, Korea prepared one of the virus variant controls because South Africa had shared epidemiological information that they observed in their country quickly and accurately.
After two years, Korea and other developing countries are at different stages of the pandemic and are already talking about getting back to normal. Developing countries must take these lessons and adapt them to their realities to envision a possible recovery. What is the state of your community? Share in the comments section below.